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With all the shooters and games that takes themselves too seriously, it's nice to find something that is all about having a laugh and blowing stuff up - and isn't afraid to shove it in your face. Saints Row: The Third is an open world game, very much like Grand Theft Auto... and yet so very, very different.
The Third Street Saints are a gang that have become household names, with their own toys, energy drinks etc. The opening sequence sets the tone for the whole game, throwing you into an impossible bank heist carried out in the most over the top style, huge shootout and bizarre getaway. You play as The Boss, leader of the Saints who is completely customizable (more on that later), and you must lead your gang as they move from their hometown of Stillwater to the top of the pile in a new city Steelport. But the three resident gangs aren't going to make your life easy, each of them in control of one section of the city; there's the Luchadores (masked Mexican wrestlers who controls the drugs in town), Morningstars (European businessmen who control the weapon trade), and Deckers (cyber-punk Tron character look-alikes who hack and launder money for the other two gangs). But the fun doesn't stop there... zombie outbreaks and a souped up army arrive later in the game to make your life hell. There's a good variety to the missions (which while becoming a bit samey in the middle of the game, do get more interesting when the zombies and army arrive); you leap out of a plane to engage in a freefalling firefight, breaking into an army base to steal explosives in order to blow up a skyscraper, skydive into a penthouse filled with enemies, race through a Tron inspired cyber motorcycle section and more. There are twists and turns as you approach the end, culminating in two equally ridiculous endings (you can easily go back and make the other choice so you can see both the endings).
Outside of the main story there are plenty of activates to keep you going like Insurance Fraud, where you must cause yourself a set amount of damage (measured in dollars) by letting yourself get hit by cars and rag-dolling to allow the pain to go further, or Guardian Angel, which puts you in a helicopter with a rocket launcher to protect your fellow Saints on the ground. There's also weird missions such as driving a car at high speed with a tiger trying to maul you from the passenger seat (never let that kitty call shotgun!) and Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, a reality-show maze of deadly traps and enemies, in which absolutely everything is fair game to kill. Except pictures of pandas. because killing pandas isn't ethical.
As you fight for control of the city, you meet some great characters who join your gang from a Russian with superhuman strength who is philosophical to the oldest pimp in town who only speaks with an auto-tune microphone. The characters all around are funny and interesting, and the voice acting is top notch. The character customization, both male and female, for The Boss is incredible. There is almost nothing that you can't change; you can make them look, sound and dress however you want, which can lead to you creating the weirdest looking characters you'll ever see in a videogame. Male and female options are interchangeable; you want a blonde bimbo with a deep male voice? You got it! Want to see your man grunt like a zombie while dressed in a cowgirl outfit? Not a problem. From animal suits to your birthday suit (with built in blur for all those naughty bits), there's not much this game doesn't have & you can spend hours fiddling with how you want your character to look. And if you get bored with anything about your character there's plastic surgery and clothing to be bought from stores all over town, so you can change up your look as often as you please. But what makes this customization even more ridiculous is how serious all the other characters act around you, they look and talk to you exactly the same whether you're butt naked or sporting a giant bobble head. This kind of freedom, and complete lack of seriousness, is the embodiment of the entire Saints Row: The Third experience.
The customization isn't just limited to your character, if you don't like the look of your car, you can take your ride to any mechanic shop (Rim Jobs, there is humour everywhere in this game) and change its appearance in a number of ways (colour, rims ) as well as upgrade the handling and such things.
You start off the game with your typical game weapons (pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, RPG launcher) and they only get bigger, a device which allows you control of a UAV loaded up with missiles, or more bizarre, a giant purple dildo (cue many fun times of running around beating people up with a dildo... don't judge me, you know you want to!). You can spend money to level up weapons until they become instruments of ridiculously awesome destruction, for instance a max level gun can set your enemies on fire or blow them sky high, and spend reputation to unlock other upgrades like unlimited ammo, the game's "cheats" system.
As you progress through the story, you become the proud owner of a large and varied assortment of vehicles that includes things from your basic cars to a helicopter gunship and jet plane, and even a tank. All the vehicles handle well, the airborne controls can be a little tricky at first, but you'll be banking your jet around the skyscrapers with ease in no time.
There's plenty of mayhem to be done in Steelport on your own, but throw in a co-op partner and it just gets bigger and better. You can run off and do your own thing, or stick together to cause chaos, the game doesn't shoehorn you into actually playing missions together. You can do story missions (as long as your partner is at the same place as you) and there are co-op specific activities.
Now to the downsides. The enemy AI is dumb, they spend too much time standing out in the open waiting for you to kill them to make the combat much of a challenge, although when the game throws a lot of enemies at you at once it can be tricky to not get surrounded. It's not the greatest looking game in the world, there's not huge amounts of detail gone into the environments and there's quite a bit of texture popping and elements such as trees and pedestrians just appear from nowhere when they load.
I don't have a great track record when it comes to portable music players, dropping them off cliffs, down toilets... Yeah. So I've always decided to opt for a fairly cheap one in whatever size memory I think is best and this has always ruled me out of buying an iPod; as lovely as they are Apple's things are expensive and come with extra features I don't really want. My sister had a more expensive Creative product than this when I was looking around and compared it very favourably to the iPod range, whilst being a lot cheaper.
The Mosaic will play MP3s and video files, whilst you can also store and view pictures on it. 16GB will hold about 4,000 tracks, so if you're collection is huge this size is not for you. But 4,000 tracks is still a lot of listening time. Personally I have about 2,000 tracks and I barely listen to nay of them, but it's always handy to know that I've got them on my MP3 is I have the sudden urge for Daft Punk or ABBA overcomes me.
The Mozaic has a rather unique look to it and I think it's great. The black is sleek and stylish and the pink... well you won't soon leave that behind by accident! It has nine buttons for you to navigate your way around the menus, which are very simple to find what you're looking for on your player.
For an MP3 player this size the screen is a good size, showing you the track name, artist and any attached artwork for music, and has a good quality picture when it's playing a video or you're browsing through pictures on there.
A simple mini USB to USB cable does all the charging and file transferring. The player comes with software to install that will rip CDs and transfer music and videos etc. The only necessary thing about this is it will transfer a video and convert it to the right format for the player to play, music can simply be dragged and dropped like using an ordinary USB stick.
The only thing I've noticed wrong with it is that its clock gains time, and always stops gaining at the same amount every time too - 5 minutes fast. Whilst by no means is this the end of the world, it is very odd and has me intrigued. But I can't find out why it does this, or if indeed it happens to anyone else. And the headphones that are supplied with the player are not that good, I'd recommend substituting for your own or buying something new.
One of the more fun uses of the Wii balance board, although you can play without it too, is Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party, where you play through a variety of mini games that make fun of everything TV - shows, films and tacky adverts alike - with the same, insane sense of humour previous Rabbid's games have brought us. I love their original French name - 'Les Lapins Cretins', moronic rabbits, although it kinds loses something in translation don't you think? So in English we have Rabbids. I'd quite like to know what Ubisoft feed to their employees to come up with some of these ideas!
The Wii has always had minigames and the Rabbids have been leading the charge with their insane, and insanely infectious, screaming. In their third outing (released way back in 2008), the Rabbids have ended up trapped in a TV set and are running rampant in the shows... Well maybe there will finally be something on TV! The plot, well what little plot there is, is told though a few short cutscenes spaced out as you play.
The TV format defines the way the story mode is set out. Each minigame is a stand alone show, and you decide what show goes on the air. You can choose a minigame to fit into a timeslot and completing that show opens up more slots and more games to play.
There was one thing that drew me to the game. One piece of the advertising. One tiny little line... 'the first video game you can play with your butt.' Yes I am THAT much of a child. Don't judge me. You know you'd want to! So the first thing I had to do, find and play this minigame... and I didn't stop laughing for hours.
Unfortunately, most of the minigames are the same run of the mill games you get in any game of this genre, and not all the Rabbids or toilet humour in the world can hide that - point and shoot, shaking both controllers frantically in a racing type game, titling the controller to turn in a different racing type game etc. And it really doesn't help that the controls are not the most responsive. Some games work great and the Wii balance board has been nicely fitted in to make a few different challenges and livening up old ones, but for the majority of the time you'll be scratching your head wondering why, when you're doing exactly what the instructions told you to do, you're not completing the objective of that particular minigame.
For a TV Party there's not much in the way of a Party mode. You can have up to eight players playing, switching round controllers and Nunchuks, but there are a large number of games that restrict to one at a time, leading to boredom as you wait for your seven friends to finish the challenge. You can also be subjected to long load screens and fiddly menu navigation, detracting from the chaotic madness that the game should be.
TV Party, being a Wii game doesn't have the greatest graphics, but most of the time there's more than enough insanity on the screen to make you look beyond boring textures, or a poorly rendered cut scene.
Overall Raving Rabbids TV Party has brilliant laugh out loud moments from its quirky sense of humour. But the controls are frustratingly unresponsive sometimes and the minigames themselves haven't aged as well as the Rabbids IP has, putting a real downer on the mad fun going on in the game.
For a while I've quite liked mixing Pepsi with a little lime cordial, although it does kind of weird I really do like it. So I was pretty excited when I saw that there was going to be a proper one - Pepsi Max Citrus Freeze. Well the citrus part is misleading because it's just lime flavouring, not lemon or other citrus flavours.
I bought a 2 litre bottle when it was on offer, but I was very disappointed with this product and was not impressed. I was expecting there to be a subtle hint of lime. Well the lime is so subtle that I couldn't even taste it! And neither could others I had round for a party who tried it, so I knew it wasn't just me that couldn't taste it!
I fired off an email to Britvic customer services who replied with a "Sorry but not all our products are to everyone's taste". It felt like an automated response that didn't listen at all to my complaint.
Well I had figured that maybe it was a dud batch, one that didn't have enough flavouring put in. So I bought another bottle (still on offer) from a different shop. But it was the same, no citrus at all.
I think I'll stick to mixing my own.
I got fed up of paying for antivirus software that was bombarding me with adverts to upgrade to pay for something else that I just didn't need. A couple of friends had been recommending that I switch to AVG for ages and I decided to take their advice (and then kill them if it didn't work out well for my PC). I decided to opt for AVG's free service, partly to test it out to see how good it was, and well why pay for something when I can get most of it for free? I've stuck with the Free Edition for three years and I've never had a problem.
AVG Free doesn't skimp out on features, protecting against all kinds of viruses and malware and it also has features to protect your identity and scan your emails. It automatically checks for updates and installs any so you don't have to worry about remembering to do it. When the program is open it looks sleek & professional, showing you all of the protection you have available and if they're turned on and up to date or not, and it is very easy to navigate to what you want to do. A full system scan takes about 30 minutes, which will slow down your PC if you're using it while the scan takes place, but it's not the end of the world slow unlike some anti-virus software I've used. You can also scan specific folders or files to check if they're clean and schedule a daily scan for when exactly you'd like it to happen.
I'm pretty careful with what I download off the internet, but there's always something that can slip past you and AVG's always caught it for me; sometimes it can be a little picky and picks up things that aren't malware, but it's once in a blue moon and you can always continue with the execution.
It features a Virus Vault where AVG has "stored" the viruses it has removed, allowing you to see where it was on your PC, what kind of threat it was and when it put it there. You can then purge these from the vault and from your PC.
The only disadvantage I've found is that AVG sometimes stops Steam (Valve's gaming software for buying & playing games) from working properly. Adding Steam as an exception solved most of the problems, but whenever I want to use it for a long time I turn AVG off and turn on an alternative free software (Microsoft Security Essentials).
AVG have done themselves out of a fair bit of money by making the free edition so good that people just won't see the point in upgrading to a pay version - they also don't advertise it in my face.
Unlike the other games in the Ratchet and Clank series, All 4 One focuses on four player co-op mode (both online and offline) which allows players to drop in and drop out when they want. The game can also be played solo with an AI controlled character. A player can take the role of one of the four main characters (hence the title A4O) of the game: Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Doctor Nefarious.
Ratchet and Clank have decided to go into retirement. Captain Qwark is now the new Galactic President... Well that can't possibly go wrong can it? (There are a couple of "well I didn't vote for him" jokes throughout) Quark is having an award ceremony for himself and decides to invite his old buddies Ratchet and Clank to escort him. During the ceremony, our three hero's old nemesis Nefarious appears and unfreezes a creature which then turns against him and forces Nefarious into an alliance with the trio. After they triumph, ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Nefarious are all kidnapped and once again forced to work together. It has the great laugh out loud moments that you'd expect from an Ratchet & Clank game from start to finish, even if the plot isn't particularly memorable.
The game plays just like all the other Ratchet and Clank games, but it has a fixed camera and a very linear story. It still has a wide range of fun and imaginative weapons (such as one that turns your enemies into pigs), weird and wonderful characters, oversized bosses - everything you'd expect from an Insomniac game. The bosses are all massive, and utilize the co-op system in a very creative and well designed way.
It looks pretty much the same as previous Ratchet and Clank games but with slightly scaled back graphics - this is to cope with having four online players with minimum disruption to the game play (such as lag or frame rate drops). It's not a particularly noticeable difference, especially since
All of the main voice actors are back to reprise their roles, and once again nail everything. The music is good but nothing special.
I'd definitely recommend All 4 One for some great co-op fun, both offline and online.
Rayman has been a strong IP for Ubisoft for a long time now, and as with all nearly all Ubisoft IPs is completely insane in its own way. And this latest instalment is a fun, but difficult addition.
Well there's not much story to Rayman Origins, there's not much story to any platformer game of this type really since that's not what they're about. Rayman's snoring annoys some old woman who decides that she's had enough of the noise. In a rather over the top move, she releases an army of evil Toons on Rayman and his friends. They must overcome this army and save the Glade of Dreams.
It's a simple story so the main focus is on the platforming. Which is fun, but hard. Like seriously hard. You can only get hit once and your dead. Fall off and you're dead. As you go through the game it becomes harder and harder and it wasn't so easy to being with. This game does not hold your hand or treat you nicely. I've found it one of the hardest games I've played in this generation, some of it making me want to run away, and not even attempt it, but this game has such a great cartoon charm that makes it so much fun.
The core mechanics are your basic platforming. Each level involves a lot of jumping and climbing, all of which must be precise. As you progress through the game you gain power ups that help you through the later levels. These powers range from wall running, to swimming, and even upgrading your attacks. There is some co-op play in the game, but it's offline only and as with all of these kind of games, co-op play makes it a little chaotic and even more difficult to complete, which should be the opposite goal of co-op play. There are also side scrolling shooter levels that involves a flying mosquito, which sucks up bad guys, fires them back out. There are collectables to grab through all the levels, giving some replayability... if you can face play through the game again without smashing your controller.
The backing singing repeats throughout the levels, since there aren't that many songs, and it can get pretty annoying. It's an okay soundtrack, but it would have definitely been better with just a couple more songs added to it.
This game looks fantastic, even though the Wii version doesn't look as good as the other console versions. The cartoony style is great, giving it a pretty unique look amongst games - a lot of which strive for realism now, so it's great to have something different. The levels are well designed and flow naturally.
This is a fun, challenging game
Tron wasn't exactly a success at the cinema when it came out in 1982, but it slowly became a cult classic - in a way it was ahead of its time, although focussed on arcade games I think it resonated more with people as gaming became more prolific. As its cult status grew, interest in making a sequel surfaced at Disney. But it took a long time to come to fruition with feelers put out to script writers in 2005, a teaser was shown to much surprise and even more applause in 2008 (cementing the fact that fans DID want to be taken back to the Grid) and we got Tron Legacy in December 2010.
Tron Evolution was released to coincide with Legacy's theatrical release, but it doesn't follow the plot of the film (there is one scene that appears as a flashback in the film which occurs in this game, which was a nice link between them). Evolution takes place between the two films, expanding on the ISOs plot introduced in Legacy.
You play as Anon, a security program designed by Kevin Flynn to act as a guard to a peace treaty that is about to be signed between ISOs (naturally evolved computer programs) and ordinary Programs. But a different problem presents itself, a cloaked program known as Abraxas releases a virus into the grid, opening up a larger conspiracy. The plot is pretty solid, and goes a good job of bridging Tron to Legacy, showing us some moments that were spoken about in the sequel film and doing them nicely.
The game is a third person action with freestyle running seen in a game like Prince of Persia. It also has a few RPG elements (although very simplistic) and a couple of racing sections. Combat is a pretty simple hack and slash system, using combinations of light and heavy attacks, which are different light disc - heavy, bomb, infection; all of which are upgradeable (this is the RPG element of the game) - with the light disc to derezz your enemies. There are energy strips conveniently placed for you to regain health or energy. These energy strips are located all over the levels, but some of them are a little harder to reach than others, but they do replenish after a while, so you can always run back to any energy strip that's easiest to reach. An interesting element to the game is that your character is the same for single player and multiplayer, so if you're finding a boss fight a bit tricky in the single player you can hop online and level up your character, and vice versa. The controls and camera can sometimes make the game tricky, leaping off walls when you don't want to or focussed on the wrong place or enemy. And the vehicle sections feel neglected, there's not enough of them and they handle very clunky. You can also use the Move controller on the Lightcycle sections which doesn't handle any better and feels like a waste of programming to include it in two short sections.
The visuals are the best part of this game. The Grid has been brought to like using the Unreal Engine, and although it may be years old, Unreal does not show its age here. All of the dark, and bright neon visual effects are incredible to look at. The reflections of the walls, and floors are very well done, and the neon of the characters is very detailed. The game looks and feels just like the Grid, and it was just what I wanted from a Tron game (short of being sucked into the Grid myself).
The sound is pretty good although there are only a couple of Daft Punk songs from the film, the instrumental is good mixed in with some techno pieces. The voice work is done very well with some mimic voice acting but Olivia Wilde and Bruce Boxleitner voice their respective characters from Tron Legacy.
For me, this is just what I wanted from a Tron game, and it is better for the fact that it doesn't follow the plot of the films; the bridging plot works very well, giving a greater insight into the Grid.
This kettle is great, I don't know what more you'd want from one. Fill it up, switch it on and wait for the water to boil. In my opinion it not exactly a device worth spending tens of pounds on, especially since I bought it to go take to university halls of residence with me, so for a fiver this was perfect.
It's a simple kettle, made of plain white plastic so it's not the greatest to look at or modern, but it will fit into most kitchens without drawing attention to itself and the plastic means it's easy to wipe clean if you splash something on it. The water heats up relatively quickly and the outside of the kettle doesn't get too hot. It doesn't light up or anything & the switch clicking to the off position can be quiet, so it can sometimes be hard to tell if the kettle has actually boiled - hard to hear switching off if you're out of the room or hard to see if you're in the kitchen but there's loud music or something being played. Like most modern kettles, it has a strip window to see how full it is and it switches off automatically once your water is hot. The exposed heating element is exposed so could lead to a build up of lime scale in hard water areas (I can't be sure though since I don't live in one).
The kettle has the capacity for enough water (1.7 litres I believe it is) for a large saucepan, or two smaller ones, or for 6 or so cups of coffee/tea in one go, which is enough for me on my own for cooking or when my mates pop round in between lectures.
I've had this kettle for a couple of years and it still heats up as quickly & efficiently as it did when I first bought it. I'd definitely recommend it!
Buying a product that's labelled Value I wasn't really expecting this to last long, but it has proved me wrong. I bought one two years ago to take to university and I picked a cheap one in case it got stolen if I ended up with a dishonest flatmate. And here it is today, still going strong after having been used at least once a day since it was bought. Not bad for under a fiver eh?
It's got everything a toaster should have; two slots, control dial and early stop button. The toast appears quite high out of the toaster when it's done so no trying to wiggle it out and burning your finger in the process. It's not the best looking toaster I've ever seen, being cheap white plastic, but it's easy to clean, just wipe the side down and it's done. The tray is easy to find and empty, but if you don't do it regularly the crumbs build up a bit quick and start to burn. I have found that the heating elements can be quite noisy when heating up - an odd buzzing sound.
It's a great cheap toaster that does it's job well.
The Playstation consoles have never really been the consoles for casual gamers, and in my opinion there never really WAS a console for the casual gamer. Until the Wii came along, and blew both Microsoft and Sony out of the pool of casual gamers. I don't think either company expected it and they struggled to produce games that the casual snapped up like they did games for Nintendo's latest console outing. The Playstation Move is Sony's answer to the Wii, not another console but an new kind of controller (akin to the Wiimote) that interacts with the Playstation Eye (which is just a webcam for the PS3).
This Starter Pack contains both the Move controller and the Eye camera. But not included is another controller to interact with the Move - the Navigation controller (akin to the Nunchuk of the Wii), however this can be substituted for an ordinary PS3 controller & it is not used in that many games really so wasn't essential to be included in this pack to get you started. There is also a disc with some demos to try out the move with. The pack is perfect if, like me, you don't have the Eye camera to begin with, it gets you great savings on buying the camera & the controller separately. If you do own the Eye picking up the Move on its own is a better move - the demo disc is nothing special since most if not all of the demos will be on the PS Store by now - although it is not so great value.
Setting this up is very easy, the Eye is just connected by USB and the Move is synched to the console in the same way you synch your normal controller (connecting it using the mini USB to USB charging cable).
I find that Move is very accurate, following my actions immediately and perfectly, it works by picking up the light emitted from the end of the controller (different controllers are assigned different colours if there is more than one player). Although sometimes I find that if the room is too dark or too bright it won't always pick up correctly, but this is easily rectified by turning a lamp or two on or off. The controller is comfy and easy to hold to press the button (it can be confusing for a while remembering which buttons are where). The Eye can be placed above or below the screen, but it doesn't always stay on top of a TV screen on its own, tape or blu-tack may be required.
The Move has a wide range of compatible games now, from fitness to ones to keep your kids engrossed (Eyepet Move), to ones that end up being great fun at drunken student parties (yes I have personal experience of the latter - Kung Fu Rider being played by a bunch of drunks people is one of the funniest things I've ever seen) to augmenting an already great FPS experience (Killzone 3). There does seem to be a lack of good quality Move games, with most being mediocre, but there's something for everyone and there is more, great looking games, coming out in the near future.
I bought these Skullcandy in a pinch one day because my headphones had broken on my commute into university and I can't stand being on the bus without any music. They were cheap enough at £10 and I'd heard some good things about Skullcandy's cheaper headphones from a friend. The colours to choose from in the shop were black, purple or white and I went with the purple ones; I liked the darker purple and I wanted a bit of colour to go with my plain black MP3 Player - I'm bored of everything being black and I didn't think the white headphones would go with it.
Well after struggling to get into the packet (I really hate that vacuum sealed plastic stuff), off I went. Like most headphones it comes with a standard jack that will fit into most devices. I noticed an immediate improvement over my old headphones (standard ones that came with my MP3 player). The sound was very crisp and loud, so my MP3 doesn't need have the sound turned up so high; and the bass was great without the bass boost on the player being switched on. The wire was long enough to fit the player in my pocket & for the wire to not be taut, but not too long so that it dangled in the way (approximately 1m). It also seems to be lasting quite well with everywhere wear and tear. The plastic buds are comfy and the headphones came with a range of three sizes so there will be a fit for most ears.
The only trouble I've had with these was finding a replacement ear bud when I lost one on holiday. All the replacement packs I could find were either the wrong size, or were very expensive - getting on for half the cost of the headphones themselves, might as well buy a new pair almost.
These are great cheap, headphones.
As soon as the original Lego Star Wars video game came out (way back in 2005), I said that Pirates of the Caribbean would make a great branded Lego game and as a HUGE fan of both Lego (sets and previous video games) and Pirates of the Caribbean I was praying for it to happen. But at the time Disney had a contract with Mega Bloks, so it looked very unlikely. But in 2009, Mega Bloks lost this contract and Lego took it up - looks like my prayers were going to be answered. Later that year Disney announced that a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film was to be made, and in May 2010, Traveller's Tales announced that they would be making a Lego game that would be based on all four of the films and would be released to coincide with the release of both On Stranger Tides in cinemas and Lego sets based on this film. I think I maybe cried at this point I was so excited. And I was not disappointed.
The game follows the same formula, slap stick comedy and silent characters conveying the story points while you build, destroy and collect your way through the Bricky Caribbean. The Pirates films have some of these slap stick type moments anyway and they play off greatly with the Lego characters enhancing them. There are some moments that differ from the films, making it more kid friendly - remember the Pirates series are not kids films, or because they simply don't fit with the pacing of the game. Each film has five chapters, each focusing on one area from scenes in the films. Each chapter is a good length, allowing for a little pick up and play for an hour here or there and being able to save conveniently. Lego games all break one of the golden rules of video gaming "Video games based on films are garbage, don't play them", and it's great!
The game play is the same as all other Lego games, beat up everything made of Lego to collect studs, build bouncing piles of Lego to create helpful objects, solve puzzles or collect "Ship in the bottle"s and make your way to the end of the level. The sword fighting combat is quite fun with the characters doing little flourishes to end with, and there are different ones depending on what character you are using. I'd say the game took about 16 hours to complete story mode and 24 hours to complete the game to 100%, standard length for these kinds of Lego games.
Traveller's Tales spent a great deal of time making Lego Captain Jack Sparrow walk like real Captain Jack, and they nailed it, from his creep to his lizard run. Nearly every character you can think of from the films is unlockable (and some that you maybe not have known the names of, especially pirates in crews such as Barbossa's or Davy Jones whose names aren't even spoken in the films), and you'll need the to grab all those collectables to complete the game to 100% (and when you do there's a neat little surprise unlocked, which I absolutely adored). Although purchasing the characters can be a chore, having find them in the Hub areas, beat them up and break them, then chase after them when they respawn to purchase them in time and you've got to be quick to get to them because you don't get long to buy them before you have to beat them up again. A very poor decision to choose this format, hasn't been seen before and I doubt they'll do it again.
The game runs on the same engine as all other Lego games, giving the same good graphics, but also suffers from the same kinds of bugs we've seen before (rumour is that the engine is actually pretty broken and Traveller's Tales do a good job keeping the final games as bug free as they do, but until they build the engine from the ground up these bugs are going to persist through their games). The friendly AI is once again pretty dumb, falling off cliffs or repeatedly pushing you off a ledge. There are freezes that are confined to a few levels or area of a level, which can lead to a level being played three or four times in story mode before it doesn't freeze and you can complete the level. There's some texture clipping and frame rate drops on the Playstation 3 version, but nothing that makes the game unplayable (and nothing that isn't standard for multiplatform games that's ported to PS3 form the optimisation for Xbox 360).
Offline co-op once again features split screen so you can wander off and not be dragged down by your partner not moving and confining you to the area in a fixed camera. Now my big problem with the majority of Lego games - a lack of online co-op. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga feature online play, and although buggy, it was fun to play online with family member who live too far to come over and play for a while, like all other games. Traveller's Tales have said something along the lines of 'it's more fun to play with someone on the sofa beside you, you don't need online play'. Excuses. They just don't want to admit that they don't want to spend money on running and maintaining online play servers; this kind of offhand comment and falseness annoys me from games companies.
Overall I really, really like this game, but this may be rose tinted glasses because I utterly adore the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and the Lego games. But I feel quite strongly that Traveller's Tales need to go back to the beginning and rebuild their engine for future games (which sadly it seems they haven't so far).
Mind Jack is published by Square Enix, and seeing this name on attached to it, you'd expect big things. Great things. The basic premise of the game play is intriguing and sounds great, being able to "mind jack" enemies or bystanders and control them & help you in a fire fight, flanking your enemies. And you can go online, jumping into another player's single player game to either help, or hinder them by controlling characters, or allowing others into your game and seeing what they do.
This is where all the greatness for this game ends. The controls are clunky and difficult, as are the character movement and camera. The friendly AI is useless, running out of cover and straight at the enemy like they have a death wish. All of these to make the combat far harder than it should be and frustrating to the point of screaming. The story is uninspiring and forgetful. Voice acting is sub par and sounds like it was phoned in.
Overall I'd say this is a game to avoid, there is nothing good about it. No matter how cheap it is (most places seem to be selling this for around £2, it's not worth that). I would give it 0 stars if I was able to.
Being a bit of an adrenaline junky, snowboarding is a sport I would really like to have a go at. SSX is a fun way to have a go - despite it being pretty unrealistic - in the comfort, and safety, of your own home. SSX is this generation of console's entry in a classic Playstation series. And it pretty much lives up to the expectations.
Throwing you in a little at the deep end, the movement basics are easy to master but the tricks can be a pain as the game gives you little explanation on actually executing different moves. This isn't a problem in most of the race modes, but it becomes hard when you're doing a trick event. Seeing the AI racers end up a million points ahead of you when you think you're doing okay can be a little depressing.
The game has a neat feature that nearly all other game don't; if you fail a race so many times, it gives you the option of skipping over and unlocking the next event, even the game's Boss races have this. If you aren't very good at one type of event, it doesn't stop you from progressing in the game so the game doesn't end up being frustrating. The events are all pretty fun even if you're not great at them.
The environments (from the Himalayas to Patagonia) are beautiful, although there's not enough time to enjoy them because you're always racing down them! The soundtrack is good, a large mix of artists all of which were enjoyable.
SSX instantly brought back many memories of having a party around a friend's house racing spilt screen against each other on like the SSX games on the Playstation 2 and having a laugh. However now in this incarnation the big, and pretty much only, drawback is a lack of this proper multiplayer. No offline split screen and there's no real time online multiplayer either. You can party up and talk to your friends as you play and you can see "ghosts" of each other if you're on a course and close enough to each other, but a lack of head to head racing is real disappointing.